At the end of every worship service, right before the benediction, our pastor gives a charge–a “now go do this”–to the congregation. Usually it’s an application from the sermon, as was the case this past Sunday. This was the gist of it:
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
No, I wasn’t.
Would I have been if I’d been alive in that time and place?
No, I don’t think I would.
There’s an article with links to videos of the least of these His brethren being “crucified” for His sake in Iraq. Should I be willing to watch them as a way of “being there” with them? Am I being a coward not to watch them? My reticence isn’t about denial. I’ve already dreamed about a mass execution after seeing that photo of the truckload of men and boys being hauled away to their deaths, and I’ve wept over some of the still photos that I’ve dared to look at. There’s been plenty to fuel my prayers. And there’s not much else I can do but pray.
There is one more thing, actually: I can redouble my efforts to obey God. Individual sin has a corporate effect. Take Achan’s example. Innocent people died because of his sin. Individual obedience likewise has a corporate effect. It blesses, often in unknown ways. I need to fight harder for their sakes. THAT is where I can’t afford to flinch.
“Were you there when the crucified my Lord?”
Yes, I was. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Am I there with my raped and butchered brethren in Iraq?
Yes, I am. “We are members of one body.” “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”
I arrived at my new digs two years ago today, and I still couldn’t be more sure that it’s the right place for me to be. Did I ever tell you that God tricked me into this move? I’d never have done it. The only idea I had was to go someplace different for a year or two and then come back to Maryland. But then I was buying a house (because I didn’t want to throw away rent money for two years), and while I was still telling the “I’m just going temporarily to go back to school” story, it slowly dawned on me that such was not the case. Finally a friend said, “You’re not coming back, are you.” I grinned and shook my head sheepishly. I’m glad God’s smarter than I am…and clever enough to guide me where I need to be.
In addition to last year’s list, I am grateful for…
- My Provision
I’ve also been tricked into freelancing. It was not my idea of a nice, secure position, and I am definitely missing my disposable income, but I’m overjoyed to be able to do editing, designing, and a wee bit of writing on projects that I know are building the Kingdom. Here are a few I’ve been privileged to have a hand in: Introductory and Intermediate Logic, Against the Church, The Seven Laws of Teaching, Fit to Burst, Beowulf, and the Old Western Culture series. Amid the vicissitudes of the freelance life, I’m also grateful for a nice, consistent layer of steady work doing video review for Next Wave Security Solutions. And although it stresses and exhausts me every time, and I frequently swear I’ll never do it again, a little wedding cake income now and again is nice.
- My Protection
At a wedding the other day, the homily reminded me of how blessed I am to live in a community where biblical principles of marriage and parenting are clearly taught and abundantly modeled. Although I don’t get to experience the blessings of marriage directly, just knowing that godly husbands and fathers exist, and seeing the evidence of their faithfulness in the wives and children around me gives me a sense of security. It’s a persistent reassurance that, ah, yes, that Story I’ve been reading all my life really is true. This is gonna sound weird, but I feel like the Syrophoenician woman, who knew the children’s meal was not for her, but was content to gather the crumbs under the table. The crumbs at this feast make a better meal than the biggest helpings at the world’s table.
I’m so grateful that God brought me here!
Of the making of babies there is no end. And likewise of the making of baby hats. I’ve made fifty hats in the last twenty months since moving to Moscow. It’s only 10 percent of Bartholomew Cubbinsʼs collection, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere. Of those pictured below, a few of them were sent back east to family, and one was made before I moved, but I know at least one I made here escaped without being photographed, so…close enough. Most have been given as baby gifts, a couple were made for Halloween costumes, and a few are stockpiled for future gifting. Not nearly enough though; there are at least fifteen expected babies on the church prayer list right now.
A bunch of them were badly shaped — way too short. I was basing them on a pattern that was just a little too short to begin with, and then I was making the pattern incorrectly, so they were even shorter. If your baby got one of those…sorry! You’ll just have to make another kid so I can make another hat! I’ve been aiming for most of them for a 6-12 month size, figuring that ought to catch one winter. But a few have been smaller and a few larger, not usually by design, but by still figuring out what I’m doing.
“They built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had not commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination….” Jeremiah 32:35, NASB
It never entered God’s mind that parents should murder their children. I am grateful for those of you parents who never let that thought enter your minds, either (or chased it right out again if it did), when your kids were conceived under less than ideal circumstances. You live in a culture that tempted you with a way out, but by God’s grace, you didn’t take it.
The world told you that it would be too embarrassing or too expensive or too burdensome or too risky to have your babies, but you rejected the very notion of the horrific alternative. Thank you for your defiance.
Some of you endured pressure from family, friends, and other busybodies. Thank you for your longsuffering.
Some of you chose the hard path of blessing another family with a baby, and blessing your baby with another family. Thank you for your sacrifice.
Some of you opened your arms to receive little ones who were not flesh of your flesh but became heart of your heart. Thank you for your hospitality.
Some of you chose the hard path raising your baby alone. Thank you for your courage.
Some of you manned up and married her. Thank you for your responsibility.
Some of you resisted the temptation to sock the doctor in the jaw when he suggested your child wasn’t worthy of life. Thank you for your holy indignation.
Some of you endured the reminder of terrible sin perpetrated against you. Thank you for refusing the absurd logic of trying to make things right by adding wrong to wrong.
All of you shine the light of life in a culture of death. Thank you for telling the story of God’s grace with your lives.
“At the end of the day, damnation is the unwillingness of man for God to make him happy.”
Doug Wilson (From the assurance of pardon, Sunday, January 19, 2014)